So we had a week in Cornwall last week, and had to watch our money – and typically a few things happened which meant we had to be even stricter with our pennies – Shaun broke a tooth (which will cost over £500 to fix). Car insurance was due, and our National Trust membership. Luckily we’d booked our holiday back in February or March and paid in full at the time!
The good thing about Cornwall is how much you can do being a member of an organisation, so you really only end up buying food and mementoes.
On our journey down we stopped at Moto Service Stations – with a Merlin Pass you get a discount at some stores – it all helps!
The National Trust own several beaches and properties – and you can save a lot of money on car parking this way. The two beaches we visited were Kynance Cove and Gunwalloe Church Cove and both were wonderful. Kynance Cove has a busy cafe, and plenty of areas for kids to explore, plus great tides for bodyboarding. Gunwalloe is an open beach, perfect for flying a kite and again great for bodyboarding. There’s a cash-only cafe there.
Cash – now there’s something. I’m used to paying by card and carrying minimal cash with me, but found in Cornwall you need to carry some cash with you, as you will get caught out. Our nearest cashpoint was often in Helston (a good 10 miles away) so I made sure to have some handy, mainly to pay for car parking – as don’t expect an app to work on your phone to pay it, there’s no phone signal around a lot of the beaches!
We also have English Heritage membership via Shaun’s CSSC card, and found we also got a discount in their stores – a good excuse to buy a bit more! This covered Pendennis Castle near Falmouth, which was a good morning out – try to get there for midday as they fire a gun out towards the sea, which H enjoyed. We didn’t make it to Tintagel Castle which I want to visit, so that’ll be one for next time.
The night before we were due to check in to our caravan, we decided to stay in a wooden wigwam near Chepstow – it was well placed for the M5 and an early start. We beat the bad traffic, but be aware there are long-term roadworks near Bodmin, which delayed things by 40 minutes. I got a Wowcher deal, and it was warm, comfortable and quiet – bedding was included too. There was a good cafe there too, very child-friendly. We paid £50.
As well as the beaches, the National Trust have several properties around the area we stayed – we visited Trellisick Garden as we had arrived in Cornwall four hours before our check-in time. It was good to stretch our legs and discover a new area – plus the weather was gloriously sunny! We also visited Glendurgan (which had a fabulous maze and beach you could skim pebbles on), and of course St Michael’s Mount.
St Michael’s Mount is National Trust owned, but your parking costs extra. It’s an easy walk over (as long as the tide is out) – a lot of the causeway was swept away with the bad storms, so is being rebuilt – so they ask that you get back before the tide comes in. They’re obviously not going to stop you walking over it when the sea covers it, but I guess if everyone did there’d be a problem. It was a good 4-5 hours of wandering around the rock, listening to storytellers and H had a special trail to follow which she enjoyed and got a medal at the end for completing. The views too – and the glorious weather! If you don’t make it back before the tide, you can still get back by boat which costs a reasonable amount. There are food places on the rock, but expect queues. We went to the Sail Loft which had good priced food. Be aware, while everywhere takes cards, the boat rides back don’t – so make sure you have cash! The National Trust gift shop offers cashback as long as you spend £5 – there are no cashpoints there.
We didn’t just have glorious weather though, the rain really made its presence known. We headed out to the Seal Sanctuary in Gweek on one of those days, assuming there’d be cover – but it’s all outdoors. Fortunately we were wrapped up well so didn’t feel it (it was a warm but wet day), and gained free entry with our Merlin Passes as it’s a Sea Life Attraction. It’s a wonderful day out – a place where all the sick seals go – and they have the freedom to move around in large areas, some of them likely to live the rest of their life there. Each area has a story about its inhabitants and where they came from, and it’s fascinating. H really enjoyed it, and again, they had a trail which she completed and got a medal. There’s a Lego City quiz on at the moment which she enjoyed doing, you get a nice folder with stickers and things inside. There were areas you could shelter from the rain, so when it got really bad we stopped for food, expect to spend a good 3-4 hours there – there’s lots of walking to do!
We popped into Roskilly’s Ice Cream Parlour on more than one occasion. We also stopped by the area where the cows are milked – having read a lot about it lately, it was reassuring to see the cows graze on pastures which are farmed in a sustainable way on their organic farm. While I still feel uncomfortable seeing cows milked (it’s the being taken away from their babies bit I don’t like), it was interesting for H to see.
We visited other beaches too – Poldhu was great, and we found had lost all its sand in one of the severe storms over the last few years. Fortunately it came back after another severe storm, and was a good place to pitch our chairs and relax (and for H to bodyboard of course). The Poldhu Beach Cafe sells lots of t-shirts and essentials – slightly more expensive for the beach essentials but a good cafe nonetheless.
On our first night we went to Praa Sands, unfortunately just as the tide was coming in but it was good to be by the sea again – a place I always feel calm. There’s cafe’s there as well, and shops too. We also visited Gunwalloe – be aware, this is different to Gunwalloe Church Cove. Pebbles! It’s the fishing side of the bay, although I did get a laugh when a giant wave completely soaked H – I probably laughed a bit too much….
A trip to that part of Cornwall (Helston) isn’t complete without a trip to St Ives – at less than ten miles away, we used the shuttle bus service, going into the main village and wandering around the shops before heading towards the Tate and getting the shuttle bus back. It cost £5 to park our car, and a £5 return for the three of us. Wandering around the shops was great, and I finally got into a branch of Seasalt where I treated myself to a new skirt in their sale! I’d been looking for a book of Cornish stories for H after she heard ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ at St Michael’s Mount – and found the perfect book in the St Ives Bookseller – it’s a small independent bookshop and has a great selection in there. We ate at the Seafood Cafe which caters for vegetarians and was really reasonably priced too.
Our journey home involved a stop at the Eden Project, which had so much to do we need to go back to get it done – there’ll be a more in-depth review to follow. We bought tickets heavily discounted with the CSSC membership.
At the very end of our break we made the most of a trip to Stonehenge, the half-way mark on the way home – and free of course as we’re English Heritage AND National Trust members. Phew!